Here’s What the Few Occupiers Who Actually Showed up at Calvin Klein Had to Say About the Fashion Industry

While Occupy Wall Street fell short of its initial goals for a rally held outside yesterday’s Calvin Klein show, they did offer a more academic soundt
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While Occupy Wall Street fell short of its initial goals for a rally held outside yesterday’s Calvin Klein show, they did offer a more academic soundt
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While Occupy Wall Street fell short of its initial goals for a rally held outside yesterday’s Calvin Klein show, they did offer a more academic soundtrack to show-goers waiting for seating assignments in the dreary rain. If you ask us, it was kind of a nice change of scenery from the 300+ shows before it—fashion week would end as it always does with Calvin Klein, so why not go out with a bang?

The affiliation’s original plan was to march in droves from the site of their former encampment at Zucotti Park, all the way uptown to the site of Calvin Klein’s two runway shows held in the Garment District. They vowed to paint the eyes of 99 fashion industry insiders in red—in honor of the UC Davis students who were doused with pepper spray late last year, and if that fell short they would work to shut down the label’s 3pm showing.

Turning the corner onto the show’s 39th street location, we were expecting to be hit with a drum circle of Occupiers screaming out political verbiage to an uninterested crowd, but were instead greeting by exactly two slight protesters who stood on the opposing corner: A conservative Virginia native, and a 37-year-old from the Bronx with glittered dreadlocks and a fox-trimmed overcoat named Felix Rivera-Pitre. Rivera-Pitre contended that, “Calvin Klein has no background in social justice, [his AIDS charity work] is more like a mirage, a way for him to get away from paying taxes, and [his recent donation to FIT] doesn’t have any meaningful impact. It’s funding an industry that makes the difference between the haves and haves not more clear.” The Virginian, who wished to go unnamed, added, “The fashion world encourages people to spend money on things they don’t need instead of feeding hungry people. That doesn’t save the world.”

Across the street, more protesters turned up, including Karin Hoffman, a 69-year-old retiree who kept busy by knitting scarves and gloves that would keep her colleagues warm once they were finished. She wore a pin emblazoned with ‘Obama’ atop her hat, for reasons that she explained have everything to do with the future of the Supreme Court’s balance. “I’m here to point out the insane amount of money that is spent on fashion week while this city is full of people that don’t have warm clothes. No one needs haute couture; let’s make some kind of contribution instead of catering to the one percent,” she told us.

Of course, these interactions were followed by some internal confusion. What about the jobs that fashion creates? And, hasn’t consumerism been the point of fashion all along? The industry has really never misrepresented itself as a vehicle for social justice, save for a few organically sourced textiles or artisanally produced goods, so why judge its meaning with the same hand as, say, governmental corruption or bipartisanship?

We consulted the demonstration’s organizer Justin Stone-Diaz, who, unlike the others, had no problem attributing the poor turnout (15 individuals at most) to disagreeable weather. He explained, “It’s the last show of fashion week; typically news stories die down on these days and obviously we use these demonstrations as a way to have our voices heard.” Then came the jaw-dropper: “Inside we have fifteen individuals who had invites, and they’re going to decide what they’d like to do once the show starts.” Was it possible? Occupy Wall Street infiltrated a show, unknown to others—positioning to take down Calvin Klein? Apparently so. Though, we now know that the show went off without a hitch.

So what else has OWS been up to? We asked what he thought of the perception that OWS was dying down. “Our media strategy has worked because right now the story isn’t in New York, it’s about how Occupy is spreading,” he said. “May 1 you’ll see what we have been doing. May 1st will be an epic celebration.” Hmm... Click through for photos from #Occupyfashion

Photos: Ashley Jahncke